SpaceX’s Starship has a “decent chance” of reaching orbit on its second test flight, says Elon Musk. The vehicle is an integral part of SpaceX’s plans to explore various destinations in the solar system and build a base on Mars.
On Thursday, CEO Elon Musk said the likelihood of Starship reaching orbit on its second test flight is good, saying during the International Astronautical Federation’s annual conference that the introduction of “hot-staging” to the rocket was the “riskiest part of flight two.”
“If the engines light and the ship doesn’t blow itself up during stage stuff, then I think we’ve got a decent chance to reach orbit,” Musk said.
Just gave a talk about Starship for the IAC https://t.co/zvmTbNeqyG
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 5, 2023
Starship is SpaceX’s most powerful rocket. It is integral to Musk’s plans to reach Mars and other destinations in the solar system. The largest rocket in human history, Starship 25 and Booster 9, are fully assembled and installed at the Starbase launch pad in Texas. If the launch results in the spacecraft entering low-Earth orbit, it will be a turning point for humanity. Equipped with 33 engines, the ship has not yet received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), so its launch will have to wait.
According to Musk, SpaceX made more than a thousand changes to Starship after its first flight—for issues that impacted the vehicle‘s ability to reach orbit. Among them included installing a flame deflector, or water deluge system, at Starship’s launch pad. Its tests took place at the end of July and were successful. The water system consists of a steel plate under the rocket through which high-pressure jets of water are fired. It is needed to compensate for the thermal and acoustic energy of the 33 Raptor engines.
This protection system was developed in recent months and was part of an improvement in response to the results of Starship’s first launch on April 20. At that time, the existing concrete reinforcement under the rocket could not withstand the pressure and heat of the vehicle’s engines and broke into many pieces.